MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Sitting in the executive seats high up at Etihad Stadium, Mario Balotelli began life at Liverpool by watching his new team ruthlessly dismantled by the club he left 19 months ago.
Manchester City showed just how difficult it will be to dethrone as English champion by beating one of its predicted title rivals 3-1 on Monday, making it two wins from two tough opening games of the Premier League season.
Stevan Jovetic scored twice and fellow striker Sergio Aguero netted seconds after coming on as a substitute for City, demonstrating that the champions' strength in depth up front has hardly diminished since selling the combustible Balotelli to AC Milan in January 2013.
In fact, it has probably got even better.
With Balotelli added to the ranks for 16 million pounds ($26.5 million) on Monday, Liverpool strengthened the one area of its squad that looked light following the departure of Luis Suarez to Barcelona last month. On this evidence, though, the Reds will struggle to close the two-point gap they finished behind City last season.
"These games are games of six points," City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. "When you play at home, it is important not to drop points against important teams. Liverpool is an important team and will be fighting for the title at the end."
Jovetic was a forgotten man last season after his big-money move from Fiorentina, his career stalling during a year that was blighted by injury and failure to break into City's star-studded attack.
The Montenegro striker starred for City in preseason, though, and with Aguero working his way to full fitness after the World Cup and Alvaro Negredo out injured, Jovetic is taking his chance to make a statement to Pellegrini.
He pounced on a defensive lapse by Liverpool debutant Alberto Moreno to open the scoring in the 41st minute with a fierce low drive before starting and finishing a move that also involved Samir Nasri for his second goal in the 55th, leaving Liverpool to regret not making the most of a decent start to the match.
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